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Infographic: A beginner’s guide to understanding a coat of arms

Reader Joe Shervall has created a visual guide to deciphering and understanding your family’s coat of arms. It breaks down the elements that make up a coat of arms and explains the variations and differences associated with the different design choices.

Thanks to Joe Shervall and!



One thought on “Infographic: A beginner’s guide to understanding a coat of arms

  1. Hello I have read and read and read trying to understand coats of arms. And so for I have gotten more out of this website than any other. I do how ever have questions I cant find the answers to and I hope you can help.
    It is my wish to have a coat of arms created for my family, to be passed down from my kids to theirs.
    but I cant do this if I cannot explain to them what it means. when it comes to the crest which does one choose? is it simply what appeals to the person owl verses lion or hawk. clearly I am not royalty so I would not display a coronet, but what helmet would common wealth have used?
    I am thrown off by supporters. this being for my family can I use supporters? And why would I use a bear instead of a deer or a dragon which does one choose?
    I do like quartered shields. But I don’t understand the images used in each quarter. Are they things that mean something to me or is there a true meaning?
    I have looked at King Henry VIII coat of arms hundreds of times as im sure you have. top left quarter 3 fleur-de-lies top right quarter 3 lions bottom left 3 lions bottom right 3 fleur-de-lies. what do 3 fleur-de-lies mean what do the 3 lions mean. and his supporters a dragon on the left and a white dog on the right what fo the dragon and dog stand for?
    most oddly and least explained I saw a coat of arms no helmet but at the top of the shield there was a rabbit head wearing a crown and I saw another with a boars head wearing a crown and under the shield not on it bottom left was an eagle bottom right a slug. what does the eagle and slug at the bottom represent. what would a rabbit wearing a crown mean or boars head with a crown.
    any info would be greatly appreciated.
    thanks again
    Donald taylor

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